At the ripe age of twenty-three, I fear I'm becoming an old woman. It's a silly fear, I know. I'm not afraid of growing older (we all must go through it eventually), but I am afraid of skipping my thirties and forties and jumping straight into my sixties.
Over the last couple years, my habits have begun to betray me. I can't remember the last time I went out on a Friday night; and when I did, I was certain to be home before the strike of ten. My mother and I enjoy watching Hot in Cleveland together (and I find myself laughing louder and longer than her). I ask for kitchen appliances and dishware when the holidays roll around. I often wear vintage clothes and, to my dismay, more than once my students have loudly proclaimed I dress like an old lady (you have the same shoes as my grandmother!).
I suppose, in many ways, you could say I am already channeling the spirit of a seventy-five year old woman.
Maybe I wouldn't fear becoming an old woman if The Signs hadn't already arrived. As I sat down in the optometrist office last month, my eye doctor broke the news that my eyes were already getting cataracts. I have exactly three old lady veins—two in rather inconspicuous locations—but the last has the unfortunate position of running down the entire length of my nose (which my boyfriend so lovingly pointed out "looks bluer when I'm cold"). And, to spread the icing on the cake, I recently discovered I have laugh lines while tiredly looking at myself in the mirror.
I even talk like an old woman. Just the other night I caught myself telling my mother that I wished pants weren't so low cut and I hoped I could find a pair with a higher waist.
It's like a disease, I tell you. Old womanitis.
Despite my frivolous concerns towards aging, when I stumbled upon the quote above by Cassandra Clare, I did feel more at ease about myself. Beauty may fade, but cooking is forever. It's comforting to know that it doesn't matter whether my hair is gray or my hands are gnarled; I can make a mean chocolate chip cookie. In the end, I think that's what matters most. Food brings people together—it's a celebration of life and love.
When it comes down to it, I'd rather my legacy be lovely strawberry jam instead of a history of face lifts.
This strawberry jam is thick and sweet. Balsamic vinegar joins strawberries, lending a unique and enhancing flavor. The jam is thickened on the stove top until it reaches your desired consistency. This strawberry jam is perfect to spread on bread, crackers, or drizzle on top of ice cream.
Strawberry Balsamic Jam
1 pound (16 ounces) fresh or frozen strawberries, diced
3-4 tablespoons granulated sugar (adjust according to sweetness of the berries)
2+ tablespoons balsamic vinegar (to taste)
In a saucepan over medium heat, bring strawberries, sugar, and balsamic vinegar to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until strawberries have thickened into a jam.
To store, keep chilled in the refrigerator.